Who would you pass to?

I recently had a conversation with a young player of mine about passing. The conversation got me thinking a lot, because so much of the Greyhound offense is tied to the idea that at any time, any player is a valid target to receive a non-risky pass. And it takes a special type of player to make that pass – a willing passer. And surprisingly, there are fewer and fewer of those in basketball.

The idea behind hitting the open man is as old as it gets in terms of basketball philosophy. Before there was even a dribble, there was the pass. And even today, when teams like Golden State score 68% of their points off of a pass, when players come out to play, they want to shoot like Steph Curry or Kevin Durant – but never talk about how they are developing their passing games – to allow anyone else to shoot like Steph Curry or Kevin Durant. Do they really believe it is accidental that good shooting and good passing seem to go together?

Over the years, I’ve experienced a lot of frustration on the basketball court because passing is a critical component of my game. I don’t LOOK like a basketball player. So I don’t receive passes, and I don’t get the opportunity to make passes. As my defense has tailed off, I get fewer and fewer opportunities offensively all because of a prevailing idea in basketball: “He can’t be any good; don’t pass to him.” It happens every day on playgrounds, at the earliest levels of basketball, and unfortunately, most players never grow beyond this mentality. Don’t believe me? Look at the next streetball game you see going on.

When you take a look at the two highest scorers in NBA history – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone – right away, two other names come to mind: Magic Johnson and John Stockton. Has anyone considered that both of the two great shot-makers played with two people who, at one time, held the mark “Most Assists in NBA History?” And people think this is an accident?

But even more perplexing is the young player’s mentality when it comes time to pass. There is some truth to the idea that if you want to be a good passer, you have to be good at getting the ball to your team’s best player. However, if you want to be a good passer, you have to also realize that continually throwing the ball to one and only one person limits your effectiveness as a passer, as well as the other person’s ability as a pass recipient.

Young passers tend to only throw the ball in two directions: in the direction of the person who they think is the best player, and in the direction of the person they like the most – their friend who is on their team.

As coaches, when we start to practice passing skills, invariably, players start getting sloppy – as if ANYBODY can pass. To find one who wants to make sure that bounce pass hits his target PERFECTLY; who want to make sure the spin and position and placement of the pass is right – well – you just don’t see much of that.

At older levels, isolation plays become more and more common. The idea that the isolation player actually set someone else up? Well, maybe – but it’s not a well-practiced skill. Passing is so – well – EASY. Except that it’s not. It’s something that needs to be practiced, along with communication, receiving the ball, screening, and even diversion.

And without the view that passing is an important skill, which can be and MUST BE developed, the chances of seeing another Steph Curry or Kevin Durant slowly dwindle away.

We now return you to your three-pointers, your dunks, your isolation post-ups, and someone trying to counteract climate change by pounding the ball into the floor enough to shift earth’s orbit. *YAWN*. Wake me when it’s over.

Here we go again – Greyhounds 2018!

Well, it’s that time to get started with the 2018 Greyhounds.

There are 17 invitees for roster spots and two non-roster invitees this year.

Some information about this year’s schedule – we have six practices scheduled as of right now:

  • Saturday, June 2  – from 9:00 AM until Noon  –  at the Armory
  • Saturday, June 16  –  from 9:00 AM until Noon  –  at the Armory
  • Saturaday, June 23  – from 9:00 AM until Noon  –  at the Armory
  • Saturday, June 30  – from 9:00 AM until Noon  –  at the Armory
  • Saturday, July 7  – from 9:00 AM until Noon  –  at the Armory
  • Saturday, July 14 – from 9:00 AM until Noon  –  at Broadway Christian Church

As is the Greyhound tradition, the July 14 practice will be the Greyhound Challenge Game.  This year, we welcome back the members of the 2016 Greyhound team:  Lindale Baker, Asa Holcomb, Keylan Horn, Bryce Irvin, Cody Koebel, Ian Meyer, Zane Meyer, Lemuel Miner, Tosin Ogungbade, Brendan Royer and team captains Connor Parrish and Kolin Easterling.

Now for the untold story:

With so many people wanting to play this year, those of us on the administrative side of team did our best to find practice courts and available space so that we could have TWO Greyhound teams – one for 5th/6th graders, and one for 3rd/4th/5th Graders.  Unfortunately, Columbia has no such facilities available.  A few that had the facilities gave us straight “No”s, and most places didn’t have the space available.

So, without the extra facilities, we’re left with a single team, and potentially a lot of cuts to whittle the roster to 12.  As a person who has been on both sides of cuts, this isn’t where I want our teams to be.

Folks, we simply need more basketball courts in Columbia.  More availability from schools, more courts in churches, more private indoor courts.  If you know of places in the future that we can try, please let us know.  It is likely that we run into this problem – too many Greyhounds and not enough roster spots – in the future, again.  And simply put, we need help!

Oddly enough, the coach for TNT, Tyree Goolsby, is telling me that he’s starting to get a similar issue – too many kids, not enough roster spots.

Our second year – the year of the “Lost Greyhounds,” we didn’t have enough kids to field a single team.  Now, we’re potentially at 5 cuts, plus the two non-roster guys.  Basketball is gaining popularity again.

2016 Award Winners

With the conclusion of the 2016 season, we announce the 2016 Award winners.  There’s a new one just added today, as I’m finishing up the stats for the season.

Game Balls:

Game 1:  Asa Holcomb

Game 2:  Kolin Easterling

Game 3:  Lindale Baker

Game 4:  Lemuel Miner

Line Award (for best per-minute team production):  Brendan Royer

Abele Award (for Hardest Worker):  Keylan Horn

Hamilton Award (for Best Sportsman):  Connor Parrish

Smith Award (for Best Teammate):  Lemuel Miner

Congrats, guys.

 

 

Welcome to the Greyhound Blog.

Hello folks, and on behalf of all the Greyhounds past, present, and future, welcome to the Greyhound Blog.

I’m Joe Vancil, and I started the Greyhounds back in 2007.  At the time, we did it because a bunch of players who played in Upward wanted to keep playing.  Since then, it has gone on to become a way to introduce Upward players to competitive basketball.

I have to tell you, I’m not sure how this blog is going to unfold.  I did this partly to play with some new technology, and partly because I adore talking about my Greyhound players.  These guys have made a big difference to me, and I want to tell you about that as time goes by.

In addition to my comments, I’m sharing this blog with Mason Chandler and Sam Clubb, who are currently the assistant coaches for the upcoming 2016 Greyhound team.

Thanks for your interest in the Greyhounds!

And for those of you Greyhounds reading this with an upcoming season, the best of luck to you!